Poorest students’ debt will hit £53,000 after maintenance grant abolition, says IFS

Government to scrap grants in cost-cutting drive

The abolition of the maintenance grant for England’s poorest students next year will mean soaring debts for students from the poorest backgrounds, a leading thinktank has warned.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the changes will initially save the government £2bn a year.

However, as more students take out larger loans than before, and then fail to pay them off, the government’s savings will fall to just £270m a year.

Currently more than 500,000 students receive a maintenance grant to help pay for higher education.

The new system will replace the grants with loans, which if used, will have to be repaid alongside usual student loans.

The changes will mean that students actually have more cash during their time at university – up to £550 more “cash in pocket”, but by the time they graduate, they will have racked up debts of up to £53,000, compared to £40,500 under the existing grant system.

The government says the move is part of a commitment to “widening access to higher education”.

However, this is disputed by University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt, who said to the BBC: “It is little more than a tax on aspiration and exposes this government as certainly not being on the side of the strivers.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Overall probably a good thing - There are way too many students going to university on really pointless educational jaunts. If they can't earn the money to pay back in the future, then maybe its the wrong choice, look at apprentice or other training schemes, some even pay you to train!

    What would be good are full grants for the best candidates in STEM subjects where parents can't afford the cost.

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  • Agreed. Another of Blair's vanity projects. 50% of students don't need a useless degree from some second-rate former Poly. Most spend it catching up on the education they didn't get at their bog - standard comprehensive. Better to get a job or apprenticeship.

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